Covid crisis caused a serious dent to Modi’s image and rightly so
New Delhi, May 31: As the Modi Government embarks on its 8th year in office, its image stands seriously bruised and dented owing to untold human misery and helplessness brought about by a deadly second surge of coronavirus cases in the country. Thousands of people died for lack of medical attention while the Government response was utterly inadequate. It failed to see the second wave coming despite warnings.
The pandemic may have been the biggest in the last 100 years, as the Prime Minister chose to describe in his ‘Mann ki Baat yesterday. But it does not absolve him of his responsibility to provide much-needed medical aid to the suffering and the needy. It will weigh heavily in people’s minds whenever they have the opportunity to exercise their right to franchise. How can they forget that they not only lost their loved ones but could not even give them a dignified funeral/burial after death?. Much as the Government may now try to compensate by way of financial help to the families of the victims, it is unlikely to make much difference.
If, however, the BJP wants to salvage the image of the Government and that of the Prime Minister, the best way to go, perhaps, is to publicly admit their failure and take urgent steps to ramp up healthcare infrastructure around the country on a war footing. Instead of doing so, however, what is happening is just the opposite. Consider UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s unabashed efforts to publicize his Government’s ‘achievements’ on Covid on television and other media day in and day out spending huge public money. This could have been gainfully utilized in constructing healthcare centers in remote villages, so sorely needed in these times. The same could be said for Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal whose image-building exercise never ceases. Delhites know how they lost their kith and kin for lack of oxygen beds in hospitals that were given land at throwaway prices but who failed to create dedicated oxygen plants for their own use.
It is for the Prime Minister and his party to decide the course of action. A third wave of coronavirus has been predicted by experts, including the prestigious IIT Delhi. Let public resources be judiciously utilized even if prestigious projects like a new Central Vista redevelopment plan consisting of a new Parliament House and PM office cum residence, among others, is made to wait. People have a large heart and may still pardon Modi if he apologizes for mistakes made. They realize that even the rich nations floundered on Covid. Modi has delivered on his initial promises like ‘Swatchha Bharat’, housing for the poor, electricity to almost all villages, and drinking water supply in a large swathe, Opposition claims to the contrary, notwithstanding.
Simultaneously, the PM must shed his party’s image as a mere election-winning machine and deploy the BJP/RSS cadres in helping the poor and the needy who are crushed economically as a result of prolonged lockdowns. The Government’s help in terms of free rations to this section for some more time will be of immense help. Many economists have suggested a direct payout to tide over the crisis. This may be worth considering as well.
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